Howdy folks! Welcome to another installment of the Stargate Atlantis Rewatch. Today we are discussing season three's "Echoes." Spoilers for the episode and all that came before it, yada, yada, yada. Onward!
John is flying a very enthusiastic Radek and a very cranky Ronon back to Atlantis after an overnight visit to the mainland. Radek was testing some equipment and was quite successful, while Ronon had little luck with his hunting due to Radek's tests. John suggests to Ronon that perhaps he should take Teyla up on her offer to teach him meditation. They begin to approach Atlantis, according to the jumper's instruments, but John is alarmed to see that Atlantis isn't visible by now as it should be. Radek looks at the readings and realizes that the navigation calibrations are off for some reason. They adjust their course and make it back to the city with no further incident.
That evening, Ronon decides to try meditating with Teyla. She talks him through the relaxation technique and is disgruntled when she realizes he has fallen asleep. Leaving their session, she is walking through a corridor when she sees a strange woman dressed in the style of the Ancients walking toward her. The woman seems very agitated and is saying something but Teyla cannot understand her. She begins to ask for clarification but the woman does not stop. She just walks through Teyla and when Teyla recovers from the shock and turns around, the woman has vanished.
The next morning, Rodney is badgering Elizabeth on the subject of ZPMs. It seems that the Asurans left the city with three fully charged ZPMs, but the expedition is only getting to keep one of them. Rodney is trying to persuade Elizabeth to talk the I.O.A. into letting them keep all three, but she says the decision has already been made. One is going to power the Ancient control chair in Antarctica to defend Earth in the event of extraterrestrial attack. Another is going to the Odyssey, a Milky Way-stationed ship that is Earth's best defender against the Ori (the big enemy for that season of SG-1). She asks Rodney which of those projects he would deny a ZPM to and he is flustered, saying neither.
Later on Teyla is sparring with Ronon and manages to kick his butt. As they are leaving, she teases him about falling asleep during meditation the previous evening. They turn down the corridor where Teyla saw the apparition and she once more sees the woman walking towards them. Ronon does not seem to see the woman. Teyla steps aside this time when the woman passes and then turns to follow her. At a doorway, the woman stops to open it and out falls a man who has been severely burned. Teyla freaks out and Ronon calms her down, still having seen nothing.
John finds Rodney on a balcony gazing out at the ocean with a pair of binoculars. He hands them to John and points out a whale-like creature swimming around the city. He tells John it is his "friend" from "Grace Under Pressure."
Having seen the apparition twice, Teyla heads to the infirmary to get checked out by Carson. She also reports the incidents to Elizabeth. Carson cannot find anything wrong with her other than a lack of sleep and headache. She points out that many Ancients died in the city recently. She wonders if perhaps they tried to ascend and were unable to do so fully, instead being caught between the two planes of existence. Elizabeth and Carson share a look that clearly says they don't think much about the idea of ghosts.
Elizabeth is filling John in on the situation with Teyla, who Carson has ordered to get some rest and take it easy for a few days, when Rodney finds them. He holds up a datapad and shows them an entry from the Ancient database about the not-whales. He also points out the very lame name the Ancients had given to the species, "flagecallus," and admits he's just going to call them whales for the time being. He also reveals that he has named his friend "Sam," after SG-1's Colonel Carter, even though the whale is a boy and Carter is a girl. As he points out, Sam is a boy's name too. John is a little creeped out by this and asks why Rodney is so interested in the whales anyway. He shrugs and says he thinks they're interesting, and with his friend swimming around the city, his curiosity was piqued.
Once more, Teyla sees the Ancient woman and the burned man. This time she heads to Heightmeyer for help, worrying that the problem might be psychological. She worries that the Ancients might be trying to ask for help moving on to their next plane of existence. Heightmeyer reports to Elizabeth that she thinks Teyla might be sublimating some residual guilt for the fate of the Ancients that returned to the city (even though nothing that happened was at all her fault). She wants to keep an eye on her for the time being.
After this discussion, Elizabeth opens a door in the city and is appalled to see the burned man appear, falling to the floor in front of her. She and Teyla go straight to Heightmeyer again. Heightmeyer thinks maybe it is just Teyla's stories getting to Elizabeth and asks when was the last time she took a day off. She also points out Teyla's recent lack of sleep and headaches and suggests they might both just be suffering from the stress of their jobs and recent events. She has Carson give them something to help them sleep.
Rodney has begun tracking Sam with the city's sensors and he picks up another, larger, whale in the vicinity. He shows it to John, believing it might be Sam's mother. He and John decide to take a jumper underwater to get a closer look at the whales.
Carson is working in the infirmary when he suddenly sees an apparition of Ancient doctors performing an operation on one of the tables. Ronon is walking down a corridor when he comes across a vision of two Ancients arguing over a console in the middle of the hallway. Reports start coming in that more people have seen similar visions, all of Ancients, all very worried. Heightmeyer finally admits that everybody can't be imagining this and that something larger must be going on. Teyla thinks maybe the Ancients are trying to warn them about something.
In the jumper, they start to approach Sam and his mama but as they get closer John is struck by a very fierce headache. A few minutes later so is Rodney. They realize it is the proximity of the whales causing the pain and start trying to move away from them, but the whales keep cutting them off. Radek, monitoring them from the control tower, speculates over the radio that it might be the vibrations from the whales' echolocation that is causing their pain. They think he's right and continue to try to get away from the whales. Radek tells them to hurry, the city's sensors have just picked up dozens more of the whales, all headed toward the jumper. Rodney's nose and ears start bleeding and he passes out. John's ears start bleeding too and he just shoots the jumper straight up out of the water and heads back to the city, ordering a medical team to meet them. He and Rodney are both admitted to the infirmary with perforated eardrums but seem otherwise fine.
It has become quite clear that the whales are responsible for John and Rodney's injuries, as well as Teyla's headaches and those of everyone else in the city that is starting to complain of the same ailments. Unfortunately, the whales, now numbering in the hundreds, all seem to be converging on the city. The number of people afflicted is just the beginning. Teyla asserts, and Elizabeth agrees, that the whales and the visions she and others have been having are likely related. Maybe it is the whales the Ancients are trying to warn them against. Elizabeth orders Radek to raise the city's shield in the hope that it can stave off the effects of the whales. The Daedalus arrives on its routine trip to the city and Elizabeth won't let any of Caldwell's people beam down into the city. She tells him it's not safe and explains the current situation.
Rodney discovers mention of a bio lab, used to study indigenous life on the planet, in the Ancient database. He thinks that it might have more information about the whales, and possibly tell them how to deal with the current situation. He and John check themselves out of the infirmary, with Carson's grudging approval, as they are both still half-deaf, and head to the lab to check it out.
Teyla, walking through the city that evening, once more sees the original vision, as well as several others all one after the other. She collapses and wakes to find Ronon telling her they need to get her to the infirmary.
The shield isn't doing much to stop the effect of the whales on the city. Elizabeth is briefing Caldwell on the situation and he suggests that maybe they should be thinking about killing the whales before the whales kill all of them. Rodney returns from the lab at that point and pipes up that the whales aren't trying to kill them. Just the opposite, in fact. The visions everyone has been having are the whales trying to communicate a warning to the city. Rodney explains that he found a machine in the lab that the Ancients designed to try to learn the whales' language (and teach the whales their own). The Ancients also learned the whales were capable of sending visual communications, hence, what they are seeing.
In the infirmary, Carson is preparing those worst affected by the whales to be beamed up to the Daedalus. He thinks Teyla should be in the first group to go, which she protests. She sees the burned man once more and notices for the first time that he is wearing the uniform of an Ancient pilot. She tells Elizabeth.
Rodney figures out that the images the whales are broadcasting are of a traumatic event from Atlantis' past. They are trying to warn the city of something that happened once that might happen again. They can't understand what the visions are saying, however, because it is still in whale. He finds the program the Ancients had used to filter the whale song and translate it to Ancient. Elizabeth is able to make out a few words, enough for Rodney to search the database and learn about the event. About fifteen thousand years ago, an Ancient science ship, Adaris was hit by a major burst of radiation from the planet's sun. The ship was badly damaged and the entire crew killed, though the pilot did manage to get back to the city in time to warn the Ancients. Apparently the sun experienced a coronal mass ejection, sending a huge wave of radiation straight for the planet. The Ancients were able to extend their shield to cover most of the planet and protect it, the wildlife, and the city from the event.
Rodney explains that the whales have returned to the city for shelter and to warn the inhabitants because it is happening again. Knowing what they were facing, Rodney and Radek were able to scan the sun and have found they have little over an hour before the radiation reaches the planet. Unfortunately, with only one ZPM, they will only be able to protect the city and a small area around it. The rest of the planet will be toast, which will render the planet's atmosphere incapable of sustaining life of any sort, which will then kill the inhabitants of Atlantis. As they are discussing this, Elizabeth collapses. John takes her to the infirmary and we learn that one of the soldiers has died, the pressure caused him to develop an aneurysm. We also learn that Teyla is in very bad shape.
John gets an idea. He wants to use the ZPM to boost the shields on the Daedalus. Then they can fly the ship super (dangerously) close to the sun and get between it and the planet, causing the radiation to spill around the ship, diverting its course so it will miss the planet. Rodney thinks this is a Very Bad Idea but it is the only one they have so he goes along with it. They get up there in time to intercept the radiation burst and it seems to be working. Then, the ship starts to take on serious damage. Just as they are all starting to worry that they will not make it through, the radiation burst ceases.
The whales start to disperse pretty much immediately, sensing that the anomaly has stopped. The people in the city quickly begin to recover and everything starts to go back to normal. Ronon goes to Teyla to ask her to try teaching him meditation one more time. Rodney watches from the balcony as Sam takes one more swim against the city and thanks him for saving them all.
Well, other than some seriously dubious science, there really isn't much to say about this episode. It is pretty much the definition of stand-alone. We learn that Rodney likes whales, I guess. It's a pretty solidly entertaining hour of television, but nothing spectacular really.
"I just never feel safe in these things underwater." (Rodney)
"In space you're okay?" (John)
"Yeah, of course I am. Why wouldn't I be?" (Rodney)
"Our focus was on attack from the wraith, not the sun." (Rodney)
"It's over." (Rodney)
"And we're not toast." (John)
"We're not toast!" (Rodney)
That's all I've got for today folks. See you back here next Monday for the return of a familiar face (or two) in "Irresponsible."